Episode 97 – Postcards from Melk and the Wachau Valley

NOTE: These travel pictures are from travels prior to us becoming nomadic in 2018. Like most of the world, we are staying put right now until the threat from COVID19 is either over or preventable via a vaccine.

As we continued our 2013 Viking cruise down the Danube, we left Germany to make our first stop in Austria in the town of Melk, the home of a truly massive baroque Benedictine monastery, founded in 1089AD. The current Melk Abbey was built in the early 1700’s. It was – and is – incredibly luxurious, and one wing was often used as a 5-star “hotel” for travelling royalty passing through Melk. The 900 students of the Melk Abbey Grammar School located at the abbey certainly have impressive surroundings in which to learn!

The abbey absolutely dominates the town below it, as we saw from several angles before ascending the hill.

It’s hard to imagine just how big the abbey is unless you can get an aerial photo (beyond our options!), but this scale model on display certainly demonstrates its vast size.

Up close, it is even more imposing. Notice the words above the door in the right hand photo in the centre: Venite Adoremus (Come let us adore him). The stunning yellow colour of the abbey is slightly darker than the “Hapsburg yellow” seen on palaces like Schönbrunn.

Despite all the fantastic items on display, including hundreds of original oil paintings, and illuminated scriptures lit only by blue light to preserve their 800 year old inks, this is no stuffy museum; it is a working monastery, with weekly worship services, and a vibrant school, yet tourists are allowed into the exhibitions in the former Imperial Rooms, the Marble Hall, the balcony, the library, and the High Baroque abbey church.

Looking up the spiral staircase that connects the library to the church. It makes you think about spiral conch shells and Fibonacci numbers!

Lest you think the abbey is the only lovely thing in this town, here are a couple of streetscapes of Melk to convince you otherwise:

Sailing through the vineyards, churches, and castle ruins in the Wachau Valley prepared us for our next stop: Dürnstein.

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